/ Ice screw tips and questions

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mmmhumous on 07 Apr 2013
Found these articles pretty useful for my first day leading on ice yesterday:

Strength vs angle of ice screw and thread placements: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4315

Placing an ice-screw: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2303

Did raise a few questions though..... I was using three bog standard ice screws which I'd borrowed: 80x18mm,140x18mm,200x22mm and two warthogs which I've acquired from my father-in-law.

1. With ice screws, presumably (for a given placement) a well placed smaller screw is better than a longer one which has bottomed out, and youíve had to tie off?

2. I'm guessing wider screws are stronger than skinny ones?

3. Anyone got any top tips for getting the screw to bite? These were the first screws I've handled, so don't know if they were sharp enough. I think my choice and preparation of placements was OK, but not sure about my technique for getting the screws started, I really struggled to do it one handed.

4. Does length matter? How much better is long screw screw than a short one.

5. Why did warthogs go out of fashion? They seemed really easy to place! Is it their strength, or the strength of the placement. i.e. because they're thinner than new style screws, or they 'damage' the ice?
iksander on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:
1. Assuming there is the same amount of thread engaged in the same quality of ice, potentially yes because of the extra leverage on the tied off screw.

2. Haven't seen any evidence of this. I think that the main factors are quality of ice, area of thread contact and angle of insertion.
http://www.jjgeng.com/html/body_ice_screw.html

3.Chip a flat surface and a starter "x" with your axe and place the screw somewhere between hip and nipple level, close to your body so you can get some shove behind it.

4.Yes length matters but quality of ice is more importanthttps://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=ice%20screw%20length%20strength&source=web&...
In reply to mmmhumous:
> Found these articles pretty useful for my first day leading on ice yesterday:
>
> Strength vs angle of ice screw and thread placements: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4315
>
> Placing an ice-screw: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2303
>
> Did raise a few questions though..... I was using three bog standard ice screws which I'd borrowed: 80x18mm,140x18mm,200x22mm and two warthogs which I've acquired from my father-in-law.
>
> 1. With ice screws, presumably (for a given placement) a well placed smaller screw is better than a longer one which has bottomed out, and youíve had to tie off?

You never want a screw to bottom out as you will knacker the teeth and make it close to unusable for the rest of the climb, so shorter is generally better.
>
> 2. I'm guessing wider screws are stronger than skinny ones?

Very few "wider" ones available these days. All the steel ones seem about the same size.

> 3. Anyone got any top tips for getting the screw to bite? These were the first screws I've handled, so don't know if they were sharp enough.

Are they new? If so they should be sharp enough. If not, sharpen them.
mmmhumous on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to iksander:

Thanks for the reply :) the report is really useful.

>3.Chip a flat surface and a starter "x" with your axe and place the screw somewhere between hip and nipple level, close to your body so you can get some shove behind it.

Pretty much what I was doing. I've seen folk/videos of people doing the following. Either of them useful?

-Giving the head of the screw a tap with their hammer
-Rotating the screw both ways to get the thread to bite.
mmmhumous on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to TobyA:
> (In reply to mmmhumous)
screw to bottom out as you will knacker the teeth and make it close to unusable for the rest of the climb, so shorter is generally better.

Good point, hadn't even thought about looking after the screws, thanks.

> Are they new? If so they should be sharp enough. If not, sharpen them.

No. Borrowed, and reasonably old by the look of them. They seemed blunt, but I have no point of reference at the moment, and tend to sharpen pretty much every pointy thing in my house.
mmmhumous on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:

Can you tell much about the ice quality from what the core looks like/how well it sticks together?

I'm guessy if it's runny, it's a bad sign :)
NottsRich on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:

> Pretty much what I was doing. I've seen folk/videos of people doing the following. Either of them useful?
>
> -Giving the head of the screw a tap with their hammer
> -Rotating the screw both ways to get the thread to bite.

1. How would you hit the screw, if you only had one hand free? If you had two hands you wouldn't have a problem getting the screws in. But no, don't hit the screws. The teeth are designed to cut, not be hammered in.

2. Yes, rotating forwards and backwards to 'dig' a bit of a hole with the screw can help a bit, but the screw won't be biting into the ice, just digging a hole. Still might fall out when you let go, and will have less overall strength if you dug the hole to half the screw length, for example.

spearing05 - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous: I was told that the more solid the core coming out the better, certainly when placing a screw you can feel whether it is biting well and when it does you get a nice solid core coming out.
iksander on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:

5. Why did warthogs go out of fashion? They seemed really easy to place! Is it their strength, or the strength of the placement. i.e. because they're thinner than new style screws, or they 'damage' the ice?

I think warthogs are still popular (as are bulldogs -aka "ice hooks") but more as a "last resort" for gunged up cracks and frozen turf, don't think either are very reliable straight ice.
joe.91 - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous: I have a question, can you put screws in holes made by previous screws? Well, I know you can but will they be as strong or weaker than normal placements?
iksander on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to joe.91: See http://www.beverlymountainguides.com/file_download/5/Ice-Climbing-Anchor-Strength.pdf

Re-bored screws are nearly as strong as a freshly placed one

george mc - on 08 Apr 2013
nufkin - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:

For placing, if you hold the screw hanger against the heel of your palm, with the shaft extending through your fingers, you can make a few 'grinding' turns using the teeth to make a starter hole. Then when it seems deep enough to give some support to the tip, you can let go with your fingers to make fuller turns, but keeping the heel of your palm pressing against the hanger end as much as possible to stop it slipping out. Once the threads are properly engaged, you can take your hand away, open up the winding handle (try to buy screws with a winding handle) and whizz it in.
Basically what people have already said, but I thought a bit more detail might be helpful. Don't forget to close the winding handle after the screw is in.

As for sharpness, the points should be really pointy. If you gently push a new one into your palm, you can feel it would puncture if you pushed harder - get them like that, if you can. The Blue Ice book called 'The Art of Ice' or something like that has quite a good sharpening guide. Otherwise there's probably videos around, maybe even on UKC. Someone's probably already posted a link.
neil the weak - on 08 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:
> 1. With ice screws, presumably (for a given placement) a well placed smaller screw is better than a longer one which has bottomed out, and youíve had to tie off?

In general, yes. Shorter screws are not even much weaker in good ice and if the surface ice isn't very solid, you need to be clearing it away to place into the good stuff that's hopefully behind it regardless of what length of screw is in your hand.
>
> 2. I'm guessing wider screws are stronger than skinny ones?

Maybe? Most modern screws are similar now I think though. By far the most important thing for the strength of your screws and the thing to really focus on, is the quality of the ice into which you place them. Go for clear / blue dense looking stuff, place into the back of grovves, cavities etc. Avoid the edges of bulges etc if possible.

> 3. Anyone got any top tips for getting the screw to bite? These were the first screws I've handled, so don't know if they were sharp enough. I think my choice and preparation of placements was OK, but not sure about my technique for getting the screws started, I really struggled to do it one handed.

My screw placing routine is:

Get a VERY good axe placement above and slightly to the side of where you want the screw to go. Get comfy below it on decent feet and get your arm straight if possible.

Clean away any bad ice / protuding ice from your chosen spot which might stop the hanger spinning. Some folk chip a wee starter hole (I tend not to bother).

Hold screw at hip to low chest level(no higher) and just off to the side of your body (this position lets you push on it properly). Twist your wrist anti-clockwise as far as possible, then press the screw into the ice (as hard as possible, that's why you need the good axe placement) and crank it as far clockwise as your wrist goes. Repeat this twist motion maybe three times and it should hopefully hold it's own weight. Once it is doing this, give it maybe three more turns holding the end of the screw each time to get it in a bit more. That should get it deep enough to flip a handle out (if it has one) and blast it all the way in.

Pay attention to how the screw feels as it winds in. Ideally, there will a good amount of constant resistance and a nice even core extruding. Areas of very little / no resistance are not good news, the bigger they are the worse. If the ice you screw into turns out to be rubbish underneath, then maybe take the screw back out, clear it and try again somewhere else.

If the ice is shallow screw in carefully and if you think you get to rock, then STOP! One solid heave once it's touching is enough to signifiantly blunt or ruin a screw.

If you're leashless, feel free to interupt this process as often as you like to shake out, move about, stay comfy and not pumped.

Once it's in, flip any handles away, set hanger downward if possible and clip. Done.

> 5. Why did warthogs go out of fashion? They seemed really easy to place!

Because they are a bit rubbish. If they place "easily" into ice then they're not going to be much cop when you fall on them. Into ice dense enough to hold falls, they shatter it quite badly.
mmmhumous on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to nufkin:
> (In reply to mmmhumous)
>
> For placing.....

Cheers, the oneís I borrow are probably 10-20 years old by the look of them, so sadly no winding handles, just hangers.

> As for sharpness, the points should be really pointy...

Iíll be buying brand new ones for next winter. I suspect the ones Iíve borrow were a tad blunt.
mmmhumous on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to neil the weak:
> (In reply to mmmhumous)
> [...]
>
> In general....Done.

Thanks for the advice!

> Because they are a bit rubbish. If they place "easily" into ice then they're not going to be much cop when you fall on them. Into ice dense enough to hold falls, they shatter it quite badly.


What about in their niche application of turf and iced up cracks? Are they any cop, or are they head gear?

I managed to get 4 or 5 warthog placements: in decent iced up cracks they seems good certainly 5-10KN (using the Mk I Ďgive em a good tugí Newton-meter). The turf probably wasnít frozen enough (felt the same as neve does), but even so they were certainly body weight plus a bit. Only got one in ice (fairly clear and colourless with not a lot of bubbles) ... it didnít seem to cause that much shattering, and by tugging on it felt like a reasonable anchor. Not sure what effect itíd have on the ice if it was fallen on though.

Michael Gordon - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to mmmhumous:

Warthogs really come into their own when placed in frozen turf. I find the turf does need to be both thick and of the right consistency to get a decent placement. Even the better placements don't compare to rock gear though, and falling onto them is definitely best avoided!

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